After weeks of waiting, I was finally granted a Gilman scholarship, in addition to a Temple Education Abroad scholarship. Both of these combined gave me more than enough money to cover my summer tuition, plane tickets, and program fees! For the Gilman Scholarship, I had to submit a few more documents which primarily showed verification into my applied program. Temple’s Education Abroad office was very helpful in providing me with all these documents so the process would go smoother.
The next thing on my list was to actually buy my plane ticket, now. Because of the six hour time difference between the east coast and Spain, I bought a ticket with a Monday afternoon departure. This ensured that I would arrive on time to meet with the group on Tuesday morning. Luckily, when I got to the airport in Madrid, I spotted Genevieve, one of the teachers, and Brendan, one of the students. We took a taxi cab headed for our hotel in Chamartin, which is in the northern part of Madrid. Although it is on the outskirts of the city, it was home to the second major train station in Madrid. It was easy to navigate between Chamartin and other parts of the city.
During my first official day in Spain, we went to the Royal Palace and the Prado Museum accompanied by our very knowledgeable tour guide, Jerry. The Royal Palace is the home of the Spanish monarchy which includes most of the government officials. However, we learned that although previous Kings and Queens of Spain used to live there, the current ones, do not. It was so amazing seeing the various rooms in the palace. Even though we were not necessarily allowed to take pictures of everything, I was able to sneak a few!
Throughout the rest of the first few days of orientation in Madrid, Jerry took us to a lot of different museums and cathedrals where we were able to see where previous Kings and Queens went to mass. The cathedrals we visited in Avila, Segovia, and Toledo were also used as burial grounds for the royal families, which was very interesting to learn about.
In our free time, we explored the city and even got the opportunity to visit a modern art museum, Reina Sofia which featured Guernica, a famous Picasso painting.
Luckily enough, on our last day in Madrid, we were able to attend the World Pride Parade after our visit to Toledo. There were so many people, floats, music, and food everywhere. It was such a great experience in being able to see everybody of all ages come together in the city.